Ever entered into those shopping centre competitions that give away a car, holiday or island? 

Businesses often run competitions or “trade promotions”. Because this is regulated State by State, running a national competition can get pretty tricky. 

To make sense of it all, here’s what you need to know about trade promotions. 

1. What is a trade promotion? 

A trade promotion is conducted to promote the goods and services supplied by a business. Entry must be free, unless you’re a charity and running the competition to raise money. 

2. Is it a game of chance or game of skill? 

You need to work out what type of competition you’re running. It will either be a game of skill or a game of chance. 

Entrants to a game of skill must use a certain degree of skill and effort when entering the competition. The winner is usually judged on creativity or originality. An example of a lame question for a game of skill would be “What did Kim Kardashian and Kanye West name their daughter?”. The most common game of skill you’ll see is the classic “Tell us in 25 words or less why...”. 

A game of chance requires the winner of the competition to be determined by chance (surprise, surprise). Competitions where you have to do very little to be automatically entered into a draw (such as liking a Facebook page or spending $20 in a store) are typical games of chance. 

3. Do I need a permit? 

For a game of skill, no. For a game of chance, yeah but no. 

Here’s a breakdown by location: 

  • You need permits in NSW, South Australia, Victoria and the ACT. 
  • In WA, you don’t need a permit but the regulators want to see the T&Cs. 
  • If you’re running the competition only in the NT, you must get a permit. Otherwise, don’t bother the NT regulators; they are happy to accept that other States have provided you with a permit. 

4. How long does it take to get a permit? 

The processing time for permit applications can be anywhere from 5 to 28 days depending on the State. If you’re running a national competition, you should allow at least 3 weeks for permits to arrive. 

Here are a few tips to help you speed up the process:

  • Lodge your NSW permit application online. We’ve found that online applicationscan be turned around in as little as 24 hours.
  • In SA, if you’re willing to pay double the usual rate, your application can beprocessed in up to 5 days.
  • If you’re still tossing up options for creative, you can lodge a proposed conceptwith the application, and send in final creative later.

5. What do permits cost?

The permit application fee you need to cough up depends on the total value of the prizesin the competition. If the total value is less than $10k, you pay a lower fee than acompetition where the prizes are worth more than $100k.

6. What about the fine print on the creative?

Here’s what the regulators want to see on advertisements for a national competition(other than for TV, radio and at the cinema):

  • the name and address of the business promoting the competition
  • the permit numbers
  • when the competition starts and ends
  • what prizes are up for grabs, and what they’re worth
  • when, where and how many draws will be conducted
  • when and how the winners will be announced, and
  • where and how the full T&Cs can be found.

For TV and radio ads, the list is shorter but you must include permit numbers andinformation about how people can enter, the prizes you’re giving away and where theT&Cs can be found.

Yes, it's a hideously long list but don’t shoot the messenger. We all want to see showstopping creative and we understand it can be tricky to make fine print sound sexy, butit’s important that people can see and read the details. Go on, show us you can do better than 6 point font. We dare you.